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Those tiny 5-Hour Energy drinks may pack a bigger punch than you think: They've been cited in 13 death reports over the past four years, according to the Food and Drug Administration.
In addition, 5-Hour Energy has also been mentioned in 90 filings with the FDA that involved serious injuries such as heart attacks, convulsions, and even an abortion, reports The New York Times.
This is the second time in recent weeks that the FDA has cited a caffeinated energy drink as possibly linked to deaths. Last month, the federal agency said it had received fatality filings that cited Monster Energy drinks.
But just because an incident report mentions an energy drink doesn't necessarily mean the product caused a person's injury or death, the Times reports. Further investigation is underway.
Living Essentials, the distributor of 5-Hour Energy, insists its product is safe if used as directed, and says it is unaware of any deaths linked to the product.
Much of the debate about energy drinks like 5-Hour Energy and Monster centers on the drinks' caffeine content. In addition, many young people are using these products. It's been reported that one "shot" of 5-Hour Energy contains about 215 milligrams of caffeine. That's about twice the caffeine in a typical cup of coffee, reports the Times.
Critics say that energy drinks should bear more warning labels that detail potential health risks.
Besides requiring additional warnings, it is unclear what role the FDA can take to help the alleged victims. Survivors who blame their loved ones' deaths on energy drinks will likely have to bring a wrongful death lawsuit to receive compensation.
To win such a lawsuit, a plaintiff will likely have to prove that the drink, and not some other condition, caused a victim's death. Wrongful death lawsuits can be complicated, and those pursuing such a claim will need the assistance of an experienced attorney.